Feminists argue: After decades of ‘emancipation’ and ‘liberation’ only little has changed for the majority of women: there is still widespread, sometimes even overt, discrimination and prejudice against working women; equal pay for equal work is guaranteed by law, but is not the practice.
There is only slow progress in the struggle for equal job opportunities: large numbers of women are employed in low-grade work, particularly in the service sector and the textile industry; even well-qualified women have less chance than men of becoming bank managers or top executives.
Life is harder for many women than it used to be because many have to go out to work to supplement the family’s income as well as running the household: such a ‘double burden’ is a great strain on the women and on family life.
In cases of redundancy it is often the unskilled women with their part-time jobs who are sacked first.
Women often retire at an earlier age than man: women’s pensions are therefore lower.
10. Racial Problems: Blacks in the USA
Problems still facing the blacks: Although overt discrimination has fortunately largely disappeared in all spheres of life – politics, education, law, housing, recreation, sports, religion etc. – hidden discrimination against blacks still exists. The brutal segregation of earlier decades has been replaced by more subtle forms of discrimination.
Race relations have improved only superficially and to a limited extent. Black and white colleagues who mingle amicably at work tend to lead separate social lives after working hours. Even liberal whites who express enthusiasm for integration in theory are not always keen to promote it in practice by mixing socially with blacks.
Despite the advances made in politics at a local level, blacks remain under-represented at the state and federal level, especially in Congress and the Administration.
The most urgent problem is undeniably that of the ‘underclass’. There is now great disparity in income and social standing between successful middle-class blacks and the growing underclass. Most members of the latter live in inner-city ghettos, hotbeds of drug trafficking and crime and the scene of gang warfare between rival black or Hispanic groups. Nearly half of these underclass blacks live below the poverty line and are chronically dependent on welfare, food stamps and Medicaid benefits.
The unemployment rate of blacks is well above average. About one third of black teenagers drop out of high school. More than half of all black families are headed by one parent only. The infant mortality rate among blacks is double that of whites. Remedies are urgently needed if the underclass is not to become alienated from the rest of American society, whose belief in the work ethic and the possibility of upward mobility remains intact.
Contemporary trends in Christian Churches
A general decline in church attendance and membership has become evident.
There is now a widening gap between extremely liberal tendencies among clerics and church members at one end of the scale and very conservative tendencies at the other end.
There has been a spread of fundamentalism in the US and the growth in the popularity of the US televangelists. These preachers manipulate television in order to express their puritanical views and to attack various aspects of the permissive society such as greater sexual freedom, women’s liberation etc. Their fundamentalist belief in the liberal truth of the Bible has even led them to oppose the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
More and more people have come to regard religion as a private and personal matter concerning only the individual and God, which explains the growing reluctance to worship in churches.
12. Crime and Punishment
Capital punishment/ the death penalty:
Capital punishment has been abolished in most countries (it was abandoned in England in 1965). As a result of the rising crime rates, the ‘prohanging’ lobby is growing stronger. Some people would like to have capital punishment restored/ reintroduced: they demand retaliation, retribution and vengeance.
Arguments put forward in favour of capital punishment:
It is an expression of society’s moral outrage at particularly offensive crimes; in this way a criminal meets with his or her ‘just deserts’.
It may serve as a deterrent to others.
It reduces the cost of keeping prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment in the already overcrowded prison cells.
Arguments put forward against capital punishment:
Crime rates have proved to be unaffected in countries in which capital punishment is in force, so it does not work as a deterrent.
A system of justice based on the principle of ‘an eye for an eye’ is inhumane and an offence against human dignity.
There is no absolute certainty that the convicted murderer actually committed the crime because no legal system is foolproof.
It may create martyrs who can be exploited by radical movements.